Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is “One Million Feet Below” by Little Pieces from their self-released EP Vampires Fill Their Waterbeds with Blood.
Upon first listen to today’s song, you might be floating along serenely with Herman Jolly’s guitar before his lyrics sink in and you realize this love song is less about testing the notion of absence making the “heart grow fonder” than creating an absence just to see what would happen. Seattle band Little Pieces is the melding of iconic Portland band Sunset Valley with Seattle’s Guitar Defamation League. It is a power perfect vehicle for Jolly’s off-kilter brand of power pop. This trio will rock it out then cool it down in a heartbeat and usually some witty stage banter to help ease the transition. Their second release Vampires Fill Their Waterbeds with Blood may be a mouthful but it’s also an earful that will help battle this frosty winter weather.
I recently spoke with Little Pieces about the new album but sadly did not get to sample any of Grant’s hometown hobo juice:
How long have you been playing music together? Do you remember how you all met?
Grant: We’ve known Herman for a long time, back from when he was in Sunset Valley. Rob and I played with Chris Mills, who was a songwriter on the same label (Sugar Free) at the time. Strangely, we were covering Herman’s song “Crooked Vein”, so I was playing his song before I had met him. After that, we’d always see Sunset Valley when they were in town, and were big fans and immediate friends, so it was natural to join forces when Herman moved to Seattle.
Vampires Fill Their Waterbeds with Blood is an interesting title, how did you come up with this particular collection of words? Is there a concept behind the album or is it a jab at the recent popularity of vampires?
We feel that we had no choice in today’s tough vampire-driven economy.
Are you looking to release another full-length anytime soon or are you digging the EP format?
Our name is Little Pieces, so I guess that’s what you’ll get. It works for today’s ADD culture. It actually was pretty natural, as there were some songs kicking around that needed a cozy little home. We do have another whole album half-recorded, so there’s a full-length coming down the line.
What is the story/inspiration behind today’s song: “One Million Feet Below?”
Rob: My version is that Herman wrote the song about falling into a giant crevice which he discovers is inhabited by an ice queen.
Grant: I think it could be about how they keep finding severed feet in the ocean up near Vancouver.
Herman: It’s about leaving someone just to see if they love you enough to want you back, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like Rob’s and Grant’s answers better.
How do you approach songwriting? Do you have one person who writes the majority of things or is it pretty collaborative?
Rob: Herman has a ton of songs at all times. He and Grant play around with one, tighten it up, and work out some structure. They then bring it to me and I tell them if I think it’s shit or rocks. We all are allowed to express our opinions quite freely as long as there is a valid reason, good or bad. If the song is sticking, we go into steep mode (like a stew in a crock-pot) and let the juices flow.
Herman: Grant and Rob are pushing me to be a better writer. I have to build songs out of bricks now instead of straw or sticks so those guys don’t blow them down.
You guys have recently shot, produced and edited a couple of videos for “Soul Track” and “Key on a Kite,” what was the most challenging part of the process for you?
“Key on a Kite” we did in a couple of hours on a rooftop in San Francisco, just the three of us and two pairs of sunglasses as props. It came together almost too easily. “Soul Tack” was a big production, with a multiple shoots, a crowd scene, rolling dollies, we had to grow beards, and whatnot. It was a pretty big ordeal for no budget and tons of raw footage to deal with. And we learned that one person can easily ruin an otherwise beautifully executed scene.
Did anything wacky happen?
Well we got a lot of people drunk and then realized crowd scenes are hard to control.
Grant: I thank my Hometown Hobo Juice for that.
What’s next for Little Pieces?
Europe sounds nice.
You can catch Little Pieces at The Brick in Roslyn this Saturday or at The Sunset in Seattle on January 28th. For more information and dates, check out their website or MySpace page. Herman Jolly is also the curator of the Acoustic Coal Mine, which gives local musicians a chance to preview new songs in an acoustic setting. He’s took a bit of break to find a new locale but should have some dates to share soon. Until then, keep an eye on his MySpace page. For now, here is their video for “Soul Tack”: